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Students with Unpredictable Teacher

Home > Maths Tutoring Blog > Students with Unpredictable Teacher

Students with Unpredictable Teacher

2018-08-03T00:35:54+00:00 Posted in All Categories, Structuring Lessons, Teacher & School Issues by

How should I coordinate my lessons with the student’s class? It’s tough to be proactive when the teacher seems to be moving in unpredictable directions, leaving gaps along the way.


This is a common problem. Firstly it is important to appreciate the important role a student’s school teacher and classes will play in their mathematical development. Regardless of how skilled you are as a tutor, with only 1 hour of tutoring per week you will not be the primary source of maths education for a student. As such, we must aim for tutorials to be at the very least, closely aligned with the school’s efforts. You must remember that ultimately your performance as a tutor will be evaluated based on the student’s performance in the school’s tests, not your tests.
Here are a few ideas:


  • Get the student to see their school teacher for help once or twice per week for questions that they are stuck with. This is a good idea so that you can avoid the “question answerer” role in tutorials and focus on more important elements. However, as a result of this, the student should get insight into what the teacher is planning to focus on.
  • Get the student to ask the teacher what they will be doing next. Make sure they do this every X weeks’ as regular practice. Remember to follow this up each week with the student – ask them what the teacher said.
  • Ask the parents if they can ask the teacher what their teaching plans are. Or, ask if it is ok for you to call the teacher and ask.
  • Try as much as possible to work from a student’s school workbook/textbook. This way you know which topics are likely to follow and even if they do not follow immediately, you know the teacher is likely to cover them eventually.
  • Generally speaking, content for all schools, for all teachers is the same. Only the order in which they cover content can be different. If you are unsure what content will be next just teach the next logically relevant topic. Always try to be a little ahead of their class, that way when the teacher unpredictably changes direction your student will be at the very least on par with the class.
  • Have a look through their syllabus to ascertain the most relevant content they need to know. Alternatively look on our website – there are great descriptions for each grade, for example grade 6 maths.
  • Explain the problem to the client/student and see if they have any suggestions or if they even perceive this situation to be a problem at all. What do they want you to do in tutorials? What exactly do they want to get out of the tutoring? Maybe they want you to be a “question answerer”, to cover gaps, to get ahead of the class etc?
  • This communication is also important so that they don’t ultimately blame you for the problem of their unpredictable teacher.

Ultimately, you can only do the best with what you are given. At the very least, you, your client and your student should all be on the same page regarding what that is.